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July 26, 2010

Important artists in European history

Giotto : The Legend of a Timeless Master

(b.1267, Vespignano, d. 1337, Firenze)

If we were to survey a random order or people and them one question, Have you heard of the artist Giotto?’. Most would have to say yes’. This Florentine artist created more than paintings, sculpture and architecture. Giotto was the founder of the Italian school of painting and over his life he created a way of feeling about art, looking at art and an era and style that lasts today. Giotto was recognized as the first genius of art in the Italian Renaissance. He lived in a very artistic, religious, and intellectual enviroment and during a time of great change. “Giotto lived and worked at a time when people’s minds and talents were first being freed from the shackles of medieval restraint” (Pioch par1).


The artist’s full name was Ambrogio Bondone, detto. Little is known about his early years except that he was born about 1266 in the village of Vespignano, near Florence, which was to be the center of the new Renaissance culture. The story is told that his father was a small landed farmer. The discovery of Giotto’s talents is credited to Cimabue, a well-known Florentine painter. Cimabue allegedly saw the 12-year-old boy sketching one of his father’s sheep on a flat rock and was so impressed with his talent that he persuaded the father to let Giotto become his pupil. Another story tells that Giotto, while apprenticed to a wool merchant in Florence, frequented Cimabue’s studio so much that he was finally allowed to study painting. The stories concerning Giotto as a shepherd are difficult for most scholars to believe considering what we do know of his life. He was most likely the son of a peasant. As a matter of fact nothing was known of Giotto until he was thirty years old. This unfortunate gap in his personal history robs us of a story, which would be of intense interest as showing the growth of his genius, and reduces us to the merest conjectures.

Giotto was short and homely, and he was a great wit and practical joker. One famous story of Giotto’s talent and wit is that one day during his apprenticeship with Giovanni Cimabue, Giotto painted a fly on the nose of a figure in one of his mentor’s unfinished paintings. Cimabue later returned to work and repeatedly tried to brush it away several times, before realizing that he had fallen victim to one of his mischievous student’s practical jokes. He was married and left six children at his death. Unlike many of his fellow artists,

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